A Lifetime of Art, a retrospective exhibit celebrating more than 50 years of impressionistic art from the estate of the late regional artist Jean Van Vliet Spencer.
The show — open Saturday, August 23, at the Trinity United Methodist Parish Hall in Oak Bluffs from 4 to 7 p.m. — will feature paintings ranging from the artist’s early works of Mexico, Provincetown and Europe, through her most memorable works completed during the time she spent at Martha’s Vineyard and New York city.
A familiar fixture in the Vineyard artists’ circuit from the Fifties to her death in 1988, Ms. Spencer worked in a full range of media including pastel, watercolor, oil and acrylic.
From her earliest shows, she garnered the awards, even an American Theater Award, the forerunner of the Tony Award, for art.
Ms. Spencer studied under Wayman Adams in New York and Mexico, as well as the Art Institute of Chicago. Her most familiar works, however, featured the people, places and objects of the location she loved best: the Vineyard.
She was also known for having the honor of inheriting and residing in the original Victorian-style Pink House in the Camp Ground.
Her work featured many neighborhood subjects, from cottage interiors to Rex Harrison, Ertha Kitt, poet Oliver St. John Gogarty and songwriter W.C. Handy.
Her florals in particular deftly depicted the lively palette and lush texture of Island flora and fauna.
Ms. Spencer once described her philosophy of painting, saying: “There are two kinds of artists, those who create and those who appreciate. There should be a rapport between them. I believe in communication through my work.”
In my portraits I aim to capture not only a physical likeness, but also the essence of the individual, as well as to produce a work of art. With my figures, flowers, still lifes and landscape painting, I try to bring something of beauty to the beholder in an impressionistic manner, expressing what I feel in terms of good taste.”
Her paintings do that and more.